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Difference between revisions of "Recall of Wisconsin State Senators (2011)"

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Working under umbrella group [http://www.firericksnyder.org/ FireRickSnyder.org], petitioners began collecting signatures on May 21, 2011.<ref>[http://www.detnews.com/article/20110521/POLITICS02/105210353/1409/metro/Petitions-for-Snyder-recall-to-circulate ''The Detroit News'', "Petitions for Snyder recall to circulate", May 21, 2011]</ref> The [[Laws governing recall in Michigan|law]] allows them a 90 day window to circulate petitions, meaning they had until August 20, 2011 to amass the minimum of 806,522 valid signatures, a number equal to 25% of the ballots cast for the governor in the most recent election. Anticipating that one in five signatures would be discarded, the group sought 1.1 million signatures. Organizers worked to meet that number earlier – by August 5, 2011 – the deadline to place a ballot initiative on the November 8, 2011 ballot.<ref>[http://www.freep.com/article/20110521/NEWS15/105210347/Gov-Rick-Snyder-s-opponents-rally-hopes-getting-him-recalled?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s ''Detroit Free Press'' "Gov. Rick Snyder's opponents to rally in hopes of getting him recalled," May 21, 2011]</ref>
 
Working under umbrella group [http://www.firericksnyder.org/ FireRickSnyder.org], petitioners began collecting signatures on May 21, 2011.<ref>[http://www.detnews.com/article/20110521/POLITICS02/105210353/1409/metro/Petitions-for-Snyder-recall-to-circulate ''The Detroit News'', "Petitions for Snyder recall to circulate", May 21, 2011]</ref> The [[Laws governing recall in Michigan|law]] allows them a 90 day window to circulate petitions, meaning they had until August 20, 2011 to amass the minimum of 806,522 valid signatures, a number equal to 25% of the ballots cast for the governor in the most recent election. Anticipating that one in five signatures would be discarded, the group sought 1.1 million signatures. Organizers worked to meet that number earlier – by August 5, 2011 – the deadline to place a ballot initiative on the November 8, 2011 ballot.<ref>[http://www.freep.com/article/20110521/NEWS15/105210347/Gov-Rick-Snyder-s-opponents-rally-hopes-getting-him-recalled?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s ''Detroit Free Press'' "Gov. Rick Snyder's opponents to rally in hopes of getting him recalled," May 21, 2011]</ref>
  
The same group also targeted five lower ranked state officials – Republicans all. Senators [[John Moolenaar]], [[Howard Walker]], and [[Tom Casperson]], respectively of the 36th, 37th, and 38th districts are facing recall efforts. Also in the crosshairs are Representatives [[James Bolger]] of the 63rd district and [[Joel Johnson]] of the 97th. Rep. Bolger is also the current [[Speaker of the House|Speaker of the Michigan House]].
+
The same group also targeted five lower ranked state officials – Republicans all. Senators [[John Moolenaar]], [[Howard Walker]], and [[Tom Casperson]], respectively of the 36th, 37th, and 38th districts are facing recall efforts. Also in the crosshairs are Representatives [[James Bolger]] of the 63rd District and [[Joel Johnson]] of the 97th. Rep. Bolger is also the current [[Speaker of the House|Speaker of the Michigan House]].
  
 
===Maine===
 
===Maine===

Revision as of 15:49, 19 December 2013

Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Table of Contents
Recall TimelineSignature ChallengesFake CandidatesSupportersIndividual RecallsCampaign ContributionsVoter IDBackgroundRecall ProcessState Legislative RecallsIneligible Officials in 2011National Impact

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

Recall campaigns directed against 16 Wisconsin state senators were launched in the wake of events surrounding the introduction of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 11, the "Scott Walker Budget Repair Bill" in February 2011, including the union protests in Madison, Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill.[1][2]

Recall sponsors filed signatures on petitions targeting 9 state senators - 6 Republican and 3 Democratic. Challenges were filed in all 9 of those campaigns, and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board approved the six campaigns against Republicans at meetings on May 23 and May 31, and approved the three campaigns against Democrats on June 8.

The Wisconsin State Senate included 14 Democrats and 19 Republicans as of the November 2, 2010 Wisconsin state senate election. Democrats gained two seats from the recall elections, leading to a 17-16 Republican majority. Estimates as of September 20, 2011, put total campaign spending at a record breaking $44 million. Democrats outspent Republicans by a little under $3 million, while the recalls cost state and local governments approximately $2.1 million.[3]

The laws governing recall in Wisconsin say that an elected official must have served at least one year of the term for which he or she was most recently elected before he or she can be targeted for recall. This means that 8 Republican state senators (out of 19) were eligible for recall and 8 Democratic state senators (out of 14) were eligible for recall before 2011 elapses.[4]

What made the recalls of 2011 so unique is the focused nature of multiple state officials targeted at once. Historically, recalls were aimed at one specific legislator. "Recall is usually an individual matter, rather than a group sport," said Gary Moncrief, a political science professor at Boise State University who studies state legislatures.[5] Ultimately, two GOP senators -- Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper -- were recalled and defeated by Democratic opponents in 2011.

Prior to 2011, the last time Wisconsin voters recalled a state senator was in 2003, when Gary George was recalled.[6] The George recall was preceded by the 1996 recall of George Petak.[4]

Recall timeline

Before a recall can occur, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board has to certify the signatures and set a recall date.

Recalls against the six Republicans were all certified on June 3, which set the date for the recall election for July 12, 2011. However, since multiple candidates filed to run against the incumbents, a primary was held on July 12 while the actual recall took place four weeks later, on August 9, 2011. Recall primaries against two Democrats were held July 19, 2011, with the recalls occurring on August 16, 2011. Because there was only one Republican candidate running in District 30, that recall took place on July 19 - incumbent Dave Hansen (D) easily retained his seat against David VanderLeest (R).

2011 Wisconsin Recall Campaigns
District State senator Winning % in 2008 Recall papers filed Recall signatures required Recall signatures submitted Recall signatures validated Percentage of signatures validated Opponent Recall primary date Recall election date
12
Jim Holperin 51.2% February 19 15,960 23,300[7] 19,255[8] 82.63% Kim Simac[9] July 19 August 16
22
Robert Wirch 66.7% February 24 13,537 18,300[10] 17,138[8] 93.65% Jonathan Steitz[11] July 19 August 16
30
Dave Hansen 66.1% February 25 13,852 18,872[12] 15,540[8] 82.34% David VanderLeest[13] N/A July 19
2
Robert Cowles Unopposed March 2 15,960 26,000[14] 23,959[15] 92.15% Nancy Nusbaum[16] July 12 August 9
8
Alberta Darling 50.5% March 2 20,343 30,000[17] 22,243[15] 74.14% Assemblywoman Sandy Pasch[18] July 12 August 9
10
Sheila Harsdorf 56.4% March 2 18,816 23,000[19] 23,685[15] 102.97% Shelly Moore[20] July 12 August 9
14
Luther Olsen Unopposed March 2 14,733 24,000[21] 22,207[15] 92.52% Assemblyman Fred Clark[22] July 12 August 9
18
Randy Hopper 50.05% March 2 15,269 22,500[23] 22,953[15] 102.01% Jessica King[24] July 12 August 9
32
Dan Kapanke 51.4% March 2 15,588 30,000[25] 21,776[15] 72.58% Assebmlywoman Jennifer Shilling[26] July 12 August 9


Signature challenges

There were three steps in the challenge process.

  1. Challenge (by the incumbent to the signatures validity)
  2. Rebuttal (by the recall group to the challenge)
  3. Reply (by the incumbent)

As of May 18, all deadlines were completed based on the following table:[27]

May 23 meeting

May 23 was the first of two originally scheduled GAB meetings to certify signatures. At that meeting the Board voted to approve recall elections against Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, and Luther Olsen, rejecting most of the challenges. This cleared the way for a recall election to be held for these three on July 12.[28] At the meeting on May 31, the GAB approved recalls against Robert Cowles, Alberta Darling, and Sheila Harsdorf. All six were officially certified on June 3, setting the election for July 12.

May 31 meeting

On May 27, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board announced it would be unable to consider the recall petitions for the three Democratic incumbents at the May 31 meeting. Citing "numerous factual and legal issues," the Board said in its statement that more time was needed to ensure that a complete record would be available for examination -- particularly since the decision would likely be appealed to the courts.[29][30]

In a release, GAB officials said they did not expect to be able to hold a hearing on the recalls of Democratic incumbents until the week of June 6, which raised potential legal issues, as the initial extension granted to GAB for certification required it to ultimately make determinations before June 3.[29]

The board went ahead with hearings on May 31 for the recalls of Republican incumbents Sheila Harsdorf, Robert Cowles and Alberta Darling.[31] Officials released a 125-page memo on May 27 concerning the signatures and legal challenges. Signatures were verified against all three and officially certified on June 3.

The GAB filed a brief on June 1 asking the court for a one-week extension, which would give them until June 10 to finish working on the three Democratic recalls. The case was heard in Dane County Court at 1:30 pm on Friday, June 3.[32][33] Dane County Judge John Markson ruled that there was good cause for the extension, and that the GAB did not violate any rules by taking up the petitions out of order.[34]

June 8 meeting


FOX 11 report on the future of recalls in Wisconsin

On June 7, GAB officials posted four memos for the meeting - one each for Senators Hansen, Holperin, Wirch and an additional memo providing more background. The final memo provides context to the first three. Overall, the GAB memos left the matter unresolved regarding whether the recalls were likely to be certified or rejected.

In the memos, GAB officials invalidated some signatures in much the same way they did for the Republican incumbent petitions. Based on the initial affirming and invalidating, the following totals of signatures would be considered valid:

Those figures would be sufficient to trigger a recall. However, at the end of each memo, officials pointed to the possibility that an even greater number of signatures could be invalidated. The end of each memo reads:

...valid verified signatures, but all subject to review of signatures and involved petition pages pursuant to the circulator address and fraud allegations discussed in the accompanying Memorandum.

GAB officials did not made a recommendation whether petition circulators violated Wisconsin statute §8.40(2) and Wisconsin Administrative code §2.05(14). In its memo, GAB officials requested that the Board determine whether it would enforce certain provisions of those laws regarding the residential address of circulators. In short, those two statutes pertain to the physical address of petition circulators. Democratic challenges to the recall petitions call into question the validity of addresses for some circulators. If a circulator were to violate those statutes, then all signatures on those petitions could in theory be invalidated.

In its memo, GAB officials provided several pages of background and context regarding the certification of recalls. They also posted exhibits on the challenges for Wirch, Holperin, and Hansen.

The next step appeared, therefore to be whether the six-member Board would make an ultimate decision regarding the two areas of Wisconsin law in question. If the Board ruled that the recall campaigns did not violate those laws, then it would likely indicate that the recalls had sufficient numbers of signatures to continue. That would then open the door for possible Democratic lawsuits to bring the recall challenges to the courts -- much like three Republican incumbents had already done.

However, if the Board ruled that the recall campaigns did indeed violate the two statutes, then that opened the possibility for the Board to invalidate enough signatures to bring the recall campaigns below the required threshold. According to the GAB memo, the Board -- if it were to enforce the two statutes -- could invalidate any petition page submitted by circulators that were named in the Democratic challenge. Thereby the recalls would be deemed insufficient and no election date called.

After nearly 9 hours of deliberations, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board certified the recalls of three Democratic incumbents and set an initial election for July 19.[35] Thousands of signatures considered invalid or fraudulently collected were struck from the petitions, but the resulting number was not enough to reject any of them outright.[36]

After hearing challenges to the petitions made by the incumbents, as well as presentations from the respective recall committees and board staff, the Board certified 19,255 signatures to recall Jim Holperin, 17,138 for Robert Wirch, and 15,540 for Dave Hansen.[8] Jeremy Levinson, the attorney for the Democratic incumbents, did not indicate whether an appeal would be filed based on the GAB’s ruling.[37]

Arguing before the Board, Levinson said widespread fraud put into question all of the petitions submitted against Democratic senators, stating, "Part of our presentation today is the way in which this was done makes it clear that not enough signatures appear on these petitions to trigger a recall, and more cannot be relied upon because of the fraud and malfeasance that permeates the entire process.”[38] Democrats also questioned the use of paid petition circulators, which, they said, led in part to the fraud. Eric McLeod, representing the recall campaigns, accused the Democrats of “perpetrating fraud on the board,” and referred to the Democrat’s assertion of fraud as “empty rhetoric.”[39]

GAB staff attorney Shane Falk said the question the Board had to decide was whether the will of the electorate could be determined due to the alleged fraud and paid circulators. "At a certain point, the will of the electorate cannot be determined because of malfeasance," he said. [40] In the end the six-members of the GAB acknowledged the claims of fraud brought by Democrats, but decided it was not clear enough to throw out entire petitions. GAB Judge Gordon Myse led a push to remove over a hundred signatures collected by one circulator due to repeated claims that she misrepresented the reasons for the petition. Four of the six agreed to strike the signatures in order to show the use of deceit while circulating a petition is unacceptable and carries a penalty.[41]

Democratic spokeswoman Gillian Morris expressed disappointment in the decision, but said "I'm confident that voters of Wisconsin will support senators who stand up for working families and seniors."[39]

Dan Hunt, who lead the campaign to recall Sen. Wirch, expressed satisfaction with the board's final decision and how his campaign was run, saying, "there were no major allegations of fraud in our district, therefore, we can rightfully say that we ran our recall with integrity." Hunt went on to say, "Recalls are the last resort in the political process and should be used only in egregious circumstances. The voters in District 22 demonstrated that they want a chance at voting for a representative that will not abandon them but tough things out and ultimately do their job."[42]

Possible legal action

With the nine recalls certified, one looming question remained over the possibility of legal action to try and delay the recall.

There was some precedent for this from the last time a sitting Wisconsin State Senator was recalled. In 2003, Gary George (D) was recalled by voters and lost in the Democratic primary on October 21, 2003. However, prior to that date, George filed legal challenges that were heard in trial court, appeals court, and ultimately before the state Supreme Court -- before any recall vote could actually take place. The initial signatures for that campaign were filed in June 2003 -- meaning nearly four months elapsed between signature submission and the recall date.

After the GAB certification on May 23, 2011, both state political parties gave vague answers regarding the possibility of legal recourse. Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would not deny that Democrats might consider going to court to try to prevent recall elections against the incumbent Democrats. Meanwhile, Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state Republican Party, hinted that the Republican decision would hinder on whether the Democratic Party pursued legal recourse first.[43]

Actions by Republicans

Attorneys for Luther Olsen, Dan Kapanke, and Randy Hopper filed petitions in Dane County Court on May 31 seeking to stop the recall elections against them. They based their argument on improperly filed paperwork, similar to the argument they previously used before the GAB and saw rejected. The court petitions alleged that recall petitioners did not correctly register with the GAB and thus the 60-day period to collect signatures did not start, meaning every signature collected was "dated outside the circulation period" and therefore invalid.[44]

On June 7, Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf, and Robert Cowles joined their fellow Republicans in filing suit against the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in Dane County Circuit Court. Their lawsuits alleged that signatures on the recall petitions were invalid because of improperly filed paperwork.[45][46] Jeremy Levinson, attorney for the Democrats, filed motions with the court on June 14, asking them to throw out the Republican's "meritless" challenges.[47]

Actions by Democrats

Following the certification of the recall petitions against three targeted Democrats on June 8, Levinson did not immediately indicate whether an appeal would be filed based on the GAB’s ruling.[37] Soon after, the party appealed the decision with the Dane County Circuit Court due to what they said was widespread fraud.

State Chairman Mike Tate said, "The GAB agreed that out-of-state circulators hired by the Republican Party to gather recall signatures committed repeated and flagrant acts of election fraud upon the people of Wisconsin. A higher authority should review this stunning conspiracy to defraud the voters, and throw out all the signatures gathered by these deceitful circulators."[48]

While thousands of signatures were rejected by the Board, Democrats said that if Wisconsin statues were followed to the letter there would not be enough signatures for any of the recalls.[49]

Consolidating the lawsuits

Attorney for the Republicans, Eric McLeod, said on June 20 that he supported consolidating all of the cases brought by Republicans and Democrats into one case to expedite the process.[50] The following day, the state Department of Justice, on behalf of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, filed a motion to consolidate all of the cases into one. Attorney for the Democrats, Jeremy Levinson said it would slow down the process.[51]

Hearings

The first hearing took place on June 22 in Dane County Circuit Court to address issues dealing with lawsuits concerning the recalls.[52]

Judge Richard Niess said voters should assume that primary elections for challengers in the six recalls against Republicans would go ahead as planned on July 12. Niess planed to rule on lawsuits brought by the nine incumbent senators prior to the first primaries, and ordered that all of the lawsuits be consolidated into one case.[53]

Attorneys for the Democrats, Republicans, and Wisconsin Government Accountability Board all agreed to expedite their arguments in the case, with a June 29 deadline for initial briefs and July 7 for final arguments.[54]

After hearing arguments on July 8, Judge Niess ruled that all of the nine recalls should proceed, saying that election officials had already thoroughly and correctly addressed the complaints.[55] GAB director and general counsel Kevin Kennedy said of the decision, “I want to express my gratitude that the court upheld the well-thought-out decisions of the Government Accountability Board, which were backed up by the incredible hard work of the Board’s dedicated staff to ensure all the parties received fair consideration of their recall petitions and challenges.”[56]

Fake candidates

GOP officials put spoiler candidates on the Democratic ballot in order to force a primary, effectively delaying the actual recall elections by four weeks.[57]

There were six individuals who were called fake Democratic candidates. All six were defeated in the July 12 primary. They were:

Placeholder candidates

On June 10, the group We Are Wisconsin called on Democrats to run fake candidates as well. Communications Director Kelly Steele issued a statement saying, "Given the situation Republicans have so despicably concocted to manipulate these recall elections, it is the opinion of We Are Wisconsin that it would be in the interest of Democrats to run candidates in the Republican primaries to ensure the dates of the general election are predictably on August 9th, and that Republicans are forced to win a primary election instead of diverting their unlimited resources to back their “fake” candidates against “legitimate” Democrats."[58]

The following day Mike Tate, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, released a statement saying the party would not run fake GOP candidates - "We cannot and will not stoop to the Republicans' level by encouraging candidates to lie about their party affiliation, or recommending that people try to deceive voters. We never have done that, and won’t start now. This is something that every single one of our six challengers has said they adamantly oppose. Fred Clark, Jess King, Shelly Moore, Nancy Nusbaum, Jen Shilling and Sandy Pasch -- along with Senator Miller -- all contacted the party over the last 24 hours to make it crystal clear this was absolutely the wrong tactic."[59]

However, Tate went on to say that Democrats would be running "placeholder" candidates in order to force primaries. Gillian Morris, press secretary for the state Democratic Party, said that they were not worried about splitting the primary vote as the placeholder candidates would not be campaigning.[60]

There were three individuals who had been called placeholder Democratic candidates. They are:

Following the news that all six fake Democrats had turned in their final paperwork to get on the ballot to the GAB, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin announced that it would not be running their placeholder candidates in the recalls as they are no longer necessary. Party Chair Mike Tate explained, "The goal of the placeholder candidacies was to create an insurance policy against further Republican attempts to exploit the recall election schedule through dirty tricks and cynical plots."[61]

All three had filed nomination papers with a sufficient number of verified signatures.

Reactions

Leadership
  • Stephan Thompson, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, issued a statement on June 6 indicating that the party was advocating fake candidates run because Republicans were at a disadvantage. "Because of this disadvantage, and the outrageous nature of elected officials facing recall for standing up for a balanced budget, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has advocated that protest candidates run in Democratic primaries to ensure that Republican legislators have ample time to communicate with voters throughout their districts after the state budget is approved," he said.[62]
  • Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate - "This is sixth-grade, student council stuff."[63]
  • Democratic Senate Leader Mark Miller called the move a "partisan, coordinated attack on democracy," and "Nixonion tactics," saying, "we don't need to waste taxpayer money on phony elections to help these Republicans duck the voters and needlessly delay these elections."[64]
Incumbents
  • Randy Hopper has said he would have liked the recall election to happen as soon as possible, and hoped that there is no primary race.[66]
  • A spokesman for Sheila Harsdorf said she did not support the protest candidacy and had nothing to do with it.
  • Luther Olsen - "I have no idea if it will hurt or help. If it stretches the election out I don't know if that's good or bad. There are so many strange things happening in this business."[67]
  • Alberta Darling released a statement saying, "In no way whatsoever was I involved in the efforts by the Republican Party of Wisconsin to recruit and run a protest candidate against my opponent."[68]
Democratic candidates
  • Shelly Moore released a statement, saying, "the Republican Party must immediately shut down this partisan, coordinated attack on democracy that wastes taxpayer dollars. These elections must get underway so the State can heal. These underhanded tactics serve no purpose but to divide us further."[69]
  • Jessica King said Senator Hopper should tell the fake candidate to stop the process, but said it wouldn't change her strategy. "I just get four more weeks to campaign and talk with voters. It's a longer campaign. It may increase my budget, but I'm not worried about it," she said.[67]
  • Nancy Nusbaum called the move "a mockery of the democratic process," and "a sign of desperation."[70]
  • Sandy Pasch said, "It's a little appalling to me that they are running a fake Democrat."[71]
"Fake" candidates
  • John Buckstaff wrote, "After watching the protest in Madison led by the unions and Democratic Party I have decided to run as a protest candidate against Jessica King in the Democratic primary. I make no apologies for this action as I view the recall of Senator Hopper as wrong. Hopefully everyone will see this as another example of what democracy looks like...Liberals aren't the only ones with a right to protest and I want to bring people's attention to what is happening to a person (Hopper) who did the job we elected him to do while others fled the state."[67]
  • James Smith explained his candidacy - “I want to bring light on the issue that 22,000 signatures can pretty much overturn an election where even the loser got 40,000 votes.” Shilling’s campaign declined to comment on his candidacy.[72]
  • Otto Junkermann, when asked if he was a "spoiler candidate," replied, “I don’t know how I could avoid being considered that.”[70]

Fake candidates in context

The recruitment of such “fake candidates” is not unprecedented, and in fact even happened in Wisconsin as recently as summer 2010. In the 2010 race for the 25th Assembly district, Andrew Wisniewski ran as a Republican against incumbent Independent Robert Ziegelbauer and Democrat Kerry Trask.[73]. Wisniewski was reportedly recruited to run by Jason Sidener, a political action representative for the union ASFCME. "It is in our interest to see that Bob is defeated and having opponents from both parties helps that," Sidener said.[74] Prior to the race, Ziegelbauer commented on what he thought was a sham campaign. "It's pretty obvious to everyone that the Madison Democratic machinery put up a fake candidate to put a name on the ballot because they think it will screw up our election in the 25th Assembly District," he said.[75] The chairman of the Manitowoc County Republican Party -- where Wisniewski is from -- wrote in a letter to the Manitowoc Daily Herald that Wisniewski is not a Republican.[73]

Meanwhile, other states have encountered "fake candidates" as well. There have been allegations that longtime Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D) ran against recruited candidates in 2006, 2008, and 2010 in order to give the appearance of competition. While election results will show he faced a Republican opponent, local GOP officials have said they had never even heard of the candidates.[76]

But the fake candidates don’t end with the Midwest. Additionally in 2010, a Republican in Arizona recruited homeless people to run on the Green Party ticket[77], and a Democratic Party official in Michigan resigned for his role in running 23 candidates on the Tea Party ticket.[78]

Chances of winning

While the “fake” candidates were generally seen as protest candidates put on the ballot to give the Republicans more time to campaign, there was a possibility that they could win. Because Wisconsin has an open primary system, voters do not have to be registered to a specific party in order to cast a vote in the primary. Therefore, Republican-leaning voters could have crossed-over to the Democratic primary and vice-versa.

According to Mordecai Lee, political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and former Democratic state lawmaker, none of the races were safe wins for the “real” candidates. "For all six of them, this is a real threat. This is a real election; this is not a walk for anybody,” he said.[79] Lee cited low turnout rates for primaries and the possibility of heavy spending by Republicans to get out the vote as major factors on the outcome.

Others, however, saw the chance of one or more of the “fake” candidates winning as possible, but not probable. Charles Franklin, also a political scientist at UW-Madison, said a win would require “a tremendous amount of coordinated effort" to turn voters towards a certain candidate, and then actually get them to show up at the polls.

Wisconsin Democratic Party spokeswoman Gillian Morris said were “not concerned” about the primaries, while state Republican Party spokeswoman Katie McCallum said that the GOP was not going to help any of the “fake” Democrats with advertising or vote efforts, and that none of them were expected to win.[79]

Supporters

In favor of Democratic candidates

  • AFL-CIO
  • America Votes Action Fund
  • Citizen Action of Wisconsin
  • Democracy for America
  • Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee
  • EMILY’s List
  • Greater Wisconsin Committee
  • Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator from New York[80]
  • MoveOn.org
  • Matt Damon[81]
  • People for the American Way
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin
  • Progressive Change Campaign Committee
  • SEIU
  • Sierra Club
  • We Are Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin Education Association Council
  • Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
  • Wisconsin Professional Police Association

In favor of Republican candidates

  • American Federation for Children
  • Campaign To Defeat Barack Obama
  • Citizens For A Strong America
  • Club for Growth
  • Family Research Council
  • GOPAC Wisconsin
  • Jobs First Coalition
  • Patriot Advisors
  • The Presidential Coalition
  • Republican State Leadership Committee
  • State Government Leadership Foundation
  • Wisconsin Family Council
  • Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation
  • Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce
  • Wisconsin Right to Life
  • Wisconsin Corn Growers Association[82]

Individual recalls

After recalls were initiated on all 16 eligible senators, a total of nine campaigns officially submitted signatures to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

On May 23, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board rejected most challenges brought against the petitions to recall Randy Hopper, Luther Olsen, and Dan Kapanke. This clears the way for recall elections against these three on July 12.[28] On May 31, the GAB rejected most challenges against the petitions to recall Robert Cowles, Alberta Darling, and Sheila Harsdorf.

Robert Cowles

See also:Robert Cowles recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

About 26,000 signatures to recall Cowles were filed on April 28, 2011. This set of signatures was the ninth set of signatures filed in the 16 different state senate recalls that occurred in Wisconsin.[83] On May 31 the GAB rejected most of the challenges to the signatures, giving the go ahead for a recall election.[84] Democrat Nancy Nusbaum ran against him. The GAB officially certified the recall election on June 3. Since multiple candidate filed, a primary was held July 12 and the recall election was August 9.[85]

Otto Junkermann, a former Republican member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, ran as a protest candidate in order to necessitate a Democratic primary between himself and Nancy Nusbaum. Mert Summers was running as a "placeholder" Democrat but did not file final paperwork.

Nusbaum defeated Junkermann in the July 12 primary.

July 12 Democratic primary[86]
Candidates Votes Percent
Nancy Nusbaum Approveda 14,197 65.04%
Otto Junkermann 7,578 34.72%
Scattering 54 0.25%
  • Mert Summers Note: Summers filed nomination papers with sufficient signatures but did not file final papers to be on the ballot.[87]

Cowles defeated Nusbaum to successfully retain his seat.

August 9 Recall - District 2[88]
Candidates Votes Percent
Robert Cowles (R) Green check mark transparent.png 27,037 57.44%
Nancy Nusbaum (D) 19,974 42.43%
Scattering 62 .13%

Polling

Conducted July 21-24

August 9, 2011 Recall - District 2 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll
Candidate Party Percent
Robert Cowles Ends.png Republican 51%
Nancy Nusbaum Electiondot.png Democratic 47%
Undecided 2%

Alberta Darling

Wisconsin Senate Districts with recall signatures filed in 2011.
See also:Alberta Darling recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

About 30,000 signatures to recall Darling were filed on April 21, 2011.[89] On May 31 the GAB upheld some of the challenges to the petition, but ultimately gave the go ahead for a recall election.[90] Democratic Assemblywoman Sandy Pasch ran against her. The GAB officially certified the recall election on June 3. Since there were multiple candidates, a primary was held on July 12 and the recall election took place on August 9.[91]

Gladys Huber, a longtime Republican supporter, ran as a protest candidate in order to necessitate a Democratic primary between herself and Pasch. Nicholas Brehm was running as a "placeholder" Democrat but did not file final paperwork.

Pasch defeated Huber in the July 12 primary.

July 12 Democratic primary[92]
Candidates Votes Percent
Sandy Pasch Approveda 21,657 64.13%
Gladys Huber 11,865 35.14%
Scattering 246 0.73%
  • Nicholas Brehm Note: Brehm filed nomination papers with sufficient signatures but did not file final papers to be on the ballot.

Darling defeated Pasch to retain her seat.

August 9 Recall - District 8[93]
Candidates Votes Percent
Green check mark transparent.png Alberta Darling (R) 39,449 53.62%
Sandy Pasch (D) 34,071 46.31%
Scattering 56 .08%

Polling

Conducted July 21-24

August 9, 2011 Recall - District 8 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll
Candidate Party Percent
Alberta Darling Ends.png Republican 52%
Sandy Pasch Electiondot.png Democratic 47%
Undecided 1%

Sheila Harsdorf

See also:Sheila Harsdorf recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

About 23,000 signatures to recall Harsdorf were filed on April 19, 2011, about 7,000 more than the 15,744 that were necessary.[94], [95] On May 31, the GAB threw out most of the challenges to the petition, giving the go ahead for a recall election.[96] Democrat Shelly Moore ran against her. The GAB officially certified the recall election on June 3. Since multiple candidates filed, a primary was held July 12 and the recall election took place on August 9.[97]

Isaac Weix, a Republican supporter, ran as a protest candidate in order to necessitate a Democratic primary between himself and Moore.

Moore defeated Weix in the July 12 primary.

July 12 Democratic primary[98]
Candidates Votes Percent
Shelly Moore Approveda 19,300 53.98%
Isaac Weix 16,029 44.83%
Scattering 427 1.19%

Harsdorf defeated Moore to successfully retain her seat.

August 9 Recall - District 10[99]
Candidates Votes Percent
Sheila Harsdorf (R) Green check mark transparent.png 37,102 57.6%
Shelly Moore (D) 27,257 42.32%
Scattering 52 .08%

Polling

Conducted June 23-26

August 9, 2011 Recall - District 10 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll[100]
Candidate Party Percent
Sheila Harsdorf Ends.png Republican 50%
Shelly Moore Electiondot.png Democratic 45%
Undecided 5%

Conducted August 5-7

August 9, 2011 Recall - District 10 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll[101]
Candidate Party Percent
Sheila Harsdorf Ends.png Republican 54%
Shelly Moore Electiondot.png Democratic 42%
Undecided 4%

Dave Hansen

See also:Dave Hansen recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

About 18,870 signatures to recall Hansen were filed on April 21, 2011.[102] In early May the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board verified 17,099 signatures on the petition, enough to force a recall. They disqualified over 1,700 but still had to review some 5,500 that have been challenged by Hansen.[103]

The GAB was initially scheduled to review the challenges on May 31, but that was delayed until June 8. At that meeting, the Board validated 15,540 signatures, enough for the recall, setting the election date for July 19.[8] Republican Assemblyman John Nygren and leader of the recall campaign David VanderLeest were running against him, but the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board found Nygren was two valid signatures short of the required 400.[104]

Nygren appealed the GAB decision in circuit court,[105] but the original decision was upheld. Nygren blamed the outcome on “Democrat-appointed GAB staff that has constantly worked against me as I defended myself from the Democratic Party’s frivolous challenges.” [106]

Hansen defeated VanderLeest in the recall on July 19.

July 19 Recall[107]
Candidates Votes Percent
Dave Hansen (D) Approveda 22,051 65.93%
David VanderLeest (R) 11,054 33.05%
Scattering 340 1.02%

Jim Holperin

See also:Jim Holperin recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

About 23,000 signatures to recall Holperin were filed on April 21, 2011.[108] The GAB was initially scheduled to review challenges to the position on May 31, but it was delayed until June 8. At that meeting the GAB verified 19,255 signatures, enough for the recall, setting the election date for July 19.[8]

Kim Simac defeated Robert Lussow in the Republican primary on July 19.

Holperin defeated Simac in the recall on August 16.

July 19 Republican primary[109]
Candidates Votes Percent
Kim Simac Approveda 11,300 58.53%
Robert Lussow 7,765 40.22%
Scattering 242 1.25%

Polling

Conducted August 12-14

August 16, 2011 Recall - District 12 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll[110]
Candidate Party Percent
Jim Holperin Electiondot.png Democratic 55%
Kim Simac Ends.png Republican 41%
Undecided 4%

Randy Hopper

See also:Randy Hopper recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

23,946 signatures to recall Hopper were filed on April 7, 2011.[111] This set of signatures was the second set of signatures filed in the 16 different state senate recall campaigns that took place Wisconsin.[112] On May 23, the GAB rejected most challenges to the petition, clearing the way for a recall election.[113] Democrat Jessica King ran against him. Hopper's attorneys filed papers in Dane County Court on May 31, seeking to stop the recall election[44], but this was ultimately rejected. The GAB officially certified the recall election on June 3. Since multiple candidates filed, a primary was held July 12 and the recall election took place on August 9.[114]

John Buckstaff, a Republican supporter, ran as a protest candidate in order to necessitate a Democratic primary between himself and King.[66] Hopper said he wanted the recall election to happen as soon as possible.

Supporters of Hopper began distributing flyers in the district to get out the vote for Buckstaff in the July 12 primary.[115] The flyer described King as a "Pro-Union Extremist" who would put unions first "even if it bankrupts Wisconsin." Meanwhile, Buckstaff was described as "Pro-Wisconsin," saying he would "eliminate special privileges for government unions." The flyer was paid for by a group called "Patriot Advisors."[116]

King defeated Buckstaff in the July 12 primary.

July 12 Democratic primary[117]
Candidates Votes Percent
Jessica King Approveda 19,562 68.21%
John Buckstaff 8,995 31.37%
Scattering 120 0.42%

King defeated Hopper in a very close race.

August 9 Recall - District 18[118]
Candidates Votes Percent
Jessica King (D) Green check mark transparent.png 28,191 51.1%
Randy Hopper (R) 26,937 48.83%
Scattering 42 .08%

Polling

Conducted June 23-26

August 9, 2011 Recall - District 18 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll[119]
Candidate Party Percent
Jessica King Electiondot.png Democratic 50%
Randy Hopper Ends.png Republican 47%
Undecided 3%

Conducted August 5-7

August 9, 2011 Recall - District 18 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll[120]
Candidate Party Percent
Jessica King Electiondot.png Democratic 48%
Randy Hopper Ends.png Republican 49%
Undecided 3%

Dan Kapanke

See also:Dan Kapanke recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

Needing 15,588 to force a recall, petitioners submitted an estimated 30,000 signatures[121] to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board on April 1, 2011.[122],[123] The signatures submitted to recall Kapanke were the first set of signatures submitted in the overall recall battle.[124] On May 23, the GAB rejected most challenges to the petition, clearing the way for a recall election.[125] Democratic Assemblywoman Jennifer Shilling ran against him. Kapanke's attorneys filed papers in Dane County Court on May 31, seeking to stop the recall election[44], but this was ultimately rejected. The GAB officially certified the recall election on June 3. This set the stage for a July 12 election, but since multiple candidates filed, a primary was held July 12 and the recall election took place on August 9.[126]

At a meeting of the La Crosse County Republicans on May 25, a secret recording captured leaders considering running a spoiler candidate against Shilling in order to necessitate a primary and push back the recall election.[127] La Crosse County Republican Party Chair Bill Feehan said he met with an attorney and would file suit against the person who made the recording.[128] On June 7, James Smith, a recent member of the La Crosse County Republican executive committee, announced he would run as a protest candidate in order to necessitate a Democratic primary between himself and Shilling. He explained his candidacy - “I want to bring light on the issue that 22,000 signatures can pretty much overturn an election where even the loser got 40,000 votes.”[129]

Shilling defeated Smith in the July 12 primary.

July 12 Democratic primary[130]
Candidates Votes Percent
Jennifer Shilling Approveda 25,340 70.19%
James Smith 10,664 29.54%
Scattering 98 0.27%

Kapanke lost to Shilling in the recall.

August 9 Recall - District 32[131]
Candidates Votes Percent
Jennifer Shilling (D) Green check mark transparent.png 33,193 55.38%
Dan Kapanke (R) 26,724 44.58%
Scattering 25 .04%

Polling

Conducted June 23-26

August 9, 2011 Recall - District 32 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll[132]
Candidate Party Percent
Jennifer Shilling Electiondot.png Democratic 56%
Dan Kapanke Ends.png Republican 42%
Undecided 3%

Conducted August 5-7

August 9, 2011 Recall - District 32 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll[133]
Candidate Party Percent
Jennifer Shilling Electiondot.png Democratic 54%
Dan Kapanke Ends.png Republican 43%
Undecided 3%

Luther Olsen

See also:Luther Olsen recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

About 24,000 signatures to recall Olsen were filed on April 18, 2011.[134] On May 23 the GAB rejected most challenges to the petition, clearing the way for a recall election.[135] Democratic Assemblyman Fred Clark ran against him. Olsen's attorneys filed papers in Dane County Court on May 31, seeking to stop the recall election,[44] but this was ultimately rejected. The GAB officially certified the recall election on June 3, setting the stage for a July 12 election. However, since multiple candidates filed, a primary was held July 12 and the recall election took place on August 9.[136]

Rol Church, a Republican supporter, ran as a protest candidate in order to necessitate a Democratic primary between himself and Fred Clark.[66] Robert Forseth was running as a "placeholder" Democrat but did not file final paperwork.

Clark defeated Church in the July 12 primary.

July 12 Democratic primary[137]
Candidates Votes Percent
Fred Clark Approveda 15,052 66.7%
Rol Church 7,346 32.55%
Scattering 169 0.75%
  • Robert Forseth Note: Forseth filed nomination papers with sufficient signatures but did not file final papers to be on the ballot.

Olsen defeated Clark in the recall to successfully hold on to his seat.

August 9 Recall - District 14[138]
Candidates Votes Percent
Luther Olsen (R) Green check mark transparent.png 26,553 52.1%
Fred Clark (D) 24,355 47.79%
Scattering 56 .11%

Polling

Conducted July 21-24

August 9, 2011 Recall - District 14 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll
Candidate Party Percent
Fred Clark Electiondot.png Democratic 49%
Luther Olsen Ends.png Republican 47%
Undecided 4%

Conducted August 5-7

August 9, 2011 Recall - District 14 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll[139]
Candidate Party Percent
Fred Clark Electiondot.png Democratic 47%
Luther Olsen Ends.png Republican 50%
Undecided 3%

Robert Wirch

See also:Robert Wirch recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

About 18,300 signatures to recall Wirch were filed on April 21, 2011.[140] The GAB was initially scheduled to review challenges to the petition on May 31, but it was delayed until June 8. At that meeting the GAB verified 17,138 signatures, enough for the recall, setting the election date for July 19.[8] However, since multiple candidates filed, a primary between the two was held July 19, with the recall on August 16.

Kenosha County Board supervisor Fred Ekornaas said in early May he planned to run against Wirch if a recall election happened.[141] As of May 7 he had not be endorsed by the Republican Party.[142] Attorney Jonathan Steitz announced his bid on May 17, 2011.[143]

Dan Hunt, the organizer of the recall campaign, was said to have considered running.[144]

Steitz defeated Ekornaas in the July 19 primary.

July 19 Republican primary[145]
Candidates Votes Percent
Jonathan Steitz Approveda 5,981 61.06%
Fred Ekornaas 3,369 34.39%
Scattering 446 4.55%

Wirch defeated Steitz in the recall to retain his seat.

August 16 Recall - District 22[146]
Candidates Votes Percent
Robert Wirch (D) Green check mark transparent.png 25,524 57.35%
Jonathan Steitz (R) 19,662 42.51%
Brian Harwood (Write-in) 23 .05%
Scattering 42 .09%


Polling

Conducted August 12-14

August 16, 2011 Recall - District 22 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll[110]
Candidate Party Percent
Robert Wirch Electiondot.png Democratic 55%
Jonathan Steitz Ends.png Republican 42%
Undecided 3%

Campaign contributions

See also: Advertisements in the 2011 Wisconsin State Senate recalls

The tables below detail campaign contributions as reported to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board by the incumbents and recall committees. However, these contributions are only those that were required by the GAB. Donations to 501c4 organizations are not subject to disclosure to GAB, and therefore are more difficult to track. These spending figures are only visible when the organization files a 990 with the federal government. The 2011 calendar year form is due to the government by May 15, 2012. Because organizations can extend that to October at no penalty, by the time the form is turned in and eventually released to the public, it is likely to be sometime in 2013.

But even the 990 itself does not actually reveal very many details. The form does not require revealing expenditures or vendors. Expenditures are typically lumped into one category. In other words, the 990 would not reveal how much spending for an organization went to one reason or another.

Therefore, it was expected that the bulk of spending on the recall campaigns would be likely to come from outside groups like 501c4’s that are not affiliated directly with any particular campaign. The recent Prosser election indicated the spending would likely be in the multi-millions.

For example, the Prosser and Kloppenburg campaigns each received $300,000 in public funds for the election. But according to the Brennan Center -- a non-partisan public policy and law institute that studies campaign finance -- 501c4 groups spent more than $3 million on tv ads alone earlier this year.[147] That does not include online advertisements, newspaper ads, or other non-tv forms of ad spending.

The Prosser election was built up as the undercard to the main event of the recalls. Therefore, it was expected that an even greater sum of outside money would flow into the recall races.

Mike McCabe, executive director of the non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, referred to the amounts being raised for the recalls as "ungodly sums." "It's safe to say that we're going to see some million-dollar-plus senate elections here. We've seen some seven-figure spending in senate races before in Wisconsin, but it's very rare. You'll see that in these recall elections," he said.[148] McCabe also said that the Citizens United Supreme Court case will have a dramatic impact on the recalls. "The candidates will be bystanders in their own elections," McCabe said.[149]

Funds raised by incumbents

Here are the following sums of campaign funds raised by the nine incumbents facing recall. All figures are as of June 1, 2011.

Campaign Finance Status of Recall Elections as of June 1, 2011
District Incumbent Total funds raised Cash on Hand
8 Alberta Darling $421,939.81 $219,730.51
30 Dave Hansen $127,437.34 $179,491.22
10 Sheila Harsdorf $110,166.80 $59,472.00
12 Jim Holperin $150,903.89 $75,319.92
18 Randy Hopper $131,446.60 $105,615.72
32 Dan Kapanke $180,309.84 $99,061.24
14 Luther Olsen $34,735.59 $34,527.26
22 Robert Wirch $50,964.95 $101,007.39
TOTAL $1,207,904.82 $874,225.26

Funds raised by recall committees

Here are the total funds raised by recall committees and their cash on hand as of June 1, 2011. Out of the nearly $450,000 raised, all was spent but about $9,000.

Campaign Finance Status of Recall Committees as of June 1, 2011
District Targeted Incumbent Total funds raised Cash on Hand
2 Robert Cowles $145,963.60 $214.55
8 Alberta Darling $91,380.93 $6,504.28
30 Dave Hansen $1,359.45 $0.00
10 Sheila Harsdorf $123,694.35 $220.90
12 Jim Holperin $8,393.00 $459.91
18 Randy Hopper $48,325.57 $490.00
32 Dan Kapanke $17,987.42 $0.00
14 Luther Olsen $ - $ -
22 Robert Wirch $12,783.52 $1,144.15
TOTAL $449,887.84 $9,033.79


Expenditures by incumbents and recall committees

This chart shows the expenditures by incumbent senators targeted for recall and the recall committees against them as of June 1, 2011. Nearly $1 million was spent between them.

Expenditures of Incumbents and Recall Committees as of June 1, 2011
District Incumbent Expenditures by Incumbent Expenditures by Recall Committee
2 Robert Cowles N/A $145,749.05
8 Alberta Darling $206,424.98 $84,876.65
30 Dave Hansen $54,549.42 $1,359.45
10 Sheila Harsdorf $61,240.05 $123,473.45
12 Jim Holperin $91,737.71 $7,933.09
18 Randy Hopper $39,330.64 $47,835.57
32 Dan Kapanke $90,392.13 $17,987.42
14 Luther Olsen $637.38 N/A
22 Robert Wirch $2,808.55 $11,639.37
TOTAL $547,120.86 $440,854.05

July Continuing Reports

Recall Fundraising Update as of July 6, 2011
District Candidate Candidate Type Total funds raised for quarter Cash on Hand Total funds raised for year
2 Nancy Nusbaum Democratic Party Democrat $177,300 $133,682 $177,300
2 Otto Junkermann Protest $750 0 $750
2 Robert Cowles Incumbent $100,522 $62,168 $100,522
8 Sandy Pasch Democratic Party Democrat $431,302 $216,439 $431,302
8 Gladys Huber Protest $750 0 $750
8 Alberta Darling Incumbent $536,478 $401,382 $958,412
10 Shelly Moore Democratic Party Democrat $236,728 $91,587 $236,728
10 Isaac Weix Protest $1,200 $480 $1,200
10 Sheila Harsdorf Incumbent $217,566 $141,963 $327,733
14 Fred Clark Democratic Party Democrat $226,501 $163,197 $226,501
14 Rol Church Protest $750 0 $750
14 Luther Olsen Incumbent $72,376 $70,656 $107,111
18 Jessica King Democratic Party Democrat $221,932 $190,647 $221,932
18 John Buckstaff Protest $750 0 $750
18 Randy Hopper Incumbent $95,260 $92,461 $226,708
32 Jennifer Shilling Democratic Party Democrat $271,385 $156,634 $271,385
32 James Smith Protest N/A N/A N/A
32 Dan Kapanke Incumbent $545,604 $123,824 $725,913
TOTAL $3,137,154 $1,845,120 $4,015,747
Recall Fundraising Update as of July 13, 2011
District Candidate Candidate Type Total funds raised for quarter Cash on Hand Total funds raised for year
12 Jim Holperin Incumbent $185,698.99 $169,618.23 $336,602.88
12 Kim Simac Republican Party Republican $89,407.00 $33,555.81 $ 89,407.00
12 Robert Lussow Republican Party Republican $350.00 $ 350.00 $350.00
22 Robert Wirch Incumbent $130,805.68 $139,221.51 $181,770.63
22 Fred Ekornaas Republican Party Republican $4,783.25 $262.29 $4,783.25
22 Jonathan Steitz Republican Party Republican $6,350.00 $12,476.10 $33,547.40
30 Dave Hansen Incumbent $189,412.77 $250,798.75 $316,850.11
30 David VanderLeest Republican Party Republican $2,000.00 $715.12 $2,000.00
TOTAL $608,807.69 $606,997.81 $965,311.27

Special Pre-Election Report

Recall Fundraising Update as of July 25, 2011
District Candidate Party Total funds raised for quarter Cash on Hand Total funds raised for year
2 Nancy Nusbaum Democratic Party Democrat $61,808.47 $104,333.00 $239,608.56
2 Robert Cowles (I) Republican Party Republican $64,824.55 $98,816.62 $166,996.22
8 Sandy Pasch Democratic Party Democrat $190,903.08 $63,942.72 $622,679.89
8 Alberta Darling (I) Republican Party Republican $165,155.26 $135,429.29 $1,123,573.59
10 Shelly Moore Democratic Party Democrat $95,032.11 $111,610.36 $335,037.73
10 Sheila Harsdorf (I) Republican Party Republican $106,488.12 $97,343.15 $434,180.66
14 Fred Clark Democratic Party Democrat $67,750.23 $67,455.42 $294,251.50
14 Luther Olsen (I) Republican Party Republican $64,744.40 $97,431.57 $171,855.67
18 Jessica King Democratic Party Democrat $96,372.32 $106,078.86 $318,153.92
18 Randy Hopper (I) Republican Party Republican $106,102.96 $157,351.25 $332,810.90
32 Jennifer Shilling Democratic Party Democrat $61,270.20 $80,088.76 $332,654.72
32 Dan Kapanke (I) Republican Party Republican $ 156,467.53 $48,379.86 $882,381.01
TOTAL $1,236,919.23 $1,168,260.86 $5,254,184.37
Recall Fundraising Update as of August 8, 2011
District Candidate Candidate Type Total funds raised for quarter Cash on Hand Total funds raised for year
12 Jim Holperin Incumbent $140,609.77 $141,630.69 $490,952.65
12 Kim Simac Republican Party Republican $109,790.97 $49,698.65 $221,448.75
22 Robert Wirch Incumbent $53,427.35 $91,687.88 $237,728.98
22 Jonathan Steitz Republican Party Republican $38,676.00 $23,257.06 $72,223.40
TOTAL $342,504.09 $306,274.28 $1,022,353.78

Campaign finance complaints

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign filed campaign finance complaints on June 7 against Republicans Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke, and Democrat Dave Hansen for failing to disclose occupation and employer information about campaign contributors. [150] Hopper’s campaign report covering January 1 to April 18 was found to be missing employer information on 23 contributions totaling $42,650. Kapanke’s report from the same period was missing data on 12 contributions totaling 6,150, while Hansen had missing info on 14 contributions totaling $2,939. Under Wisconsin law, any contributor who gives over $100 in a calendar year must disclose their occupation and employer.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign announced that they found undisclosed occupation and employer information for four of the other campaigns as well. But the Hopper, Kapanke and Hansen campaigns were by far the most. On the Democratic side, Robert Wirch was missing information on five contributions totaling $1,225 and Jim Holperin did not properly identify one contributor who gave a total of $150. For the Republicans, Sheila Harsdorf did not have information on three contributions totaling $1,325 and Alberta Darling had missing info on four contributors totaling $950. Luther Olsen’s report properly identified all of his donors, while Robert Cowles did not file any campaign finance reports.[151]

GAB-3 Documents Filed after July 5, 2011[152]
Organization Contribution Received
We Are Wisconsin $1,683,641.98
America Votes Action Fund $220,000
League of Conservation Voters $60,000
Greater Wisconsin $50,000
Wisconsin Women Vote $42,750
TOTAL $2,056,391.98

Official reports

Spring Pre-Election

Special Pre-Election

Impact on redistricting

See also: Redistricting in Wisconsin

During the recalls, the Wisconsin legislature was in the midst of redrawing state and congressional districts, which had to be completed by the end of the 2011 session. Republican control of the governorship, house, and senate gave them power over the process. However, the recall elections had the possibility to significantly alter that. If Democrats were able to hold onto their three senate seats and win an additional three, the balance of the senate would swing into their control, giving them power over redistricting in that body and creating a divided government.

Sensing that Republicans may try to speed through redistricting legislation before the recalls, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate issued a statement saying, in part:[153]

Wisconsin's redistricting process has never gone forward under such a dark ethical cloud. Conceived in darkness and obscured from the voters, this heinous redistricting plot now is foisted on Wisconsin as a fait accompli.
Never before in Wisconsin's modern history has the process taken place without local participation and the creation of wards. Never before have the people of this state had so substantial a decision made in such an absence of democratic principle.

It was reported on June 23 that legislative leaders had redrawn state Senate and Assembly maps, but were keeping them mostly secret, even from their own party members. Speaker of the Assembly Jeff Fitzgerald said he shared the maps with fellow Republicans in his chamber and was deciding whether to pass them in July, prior to the recall elections.

Republican state Senators Luther Olsen and Robert Cowles, both of whom faced recall elections August 9, as well as President of the Senate Michael Ellis, said they have not yet seen maps of their own districts. While the legislature was not scheduled to be on the floor during July, a special session was held to pass the maps prior to the recalls.[154]

During the last redistricting cycle following the 2000 census, Democrats controlled the Senate and Republicans the Assembly. Unable to agree on a map, the task was ultimately completed by the courts.[155]

Impact of Voter ID law

Prior to the recall elections, the Wisconsin State Legislature passed a voter ID bill that would, among other changes, require voters to show photo identification when they go to the polls. In a contentious debate, Democrats criticized the measure as an act of voter suppression and disenfranchisement. Republicans argued the bill would help to reduce voter fraud. In a statement Gov. Scott Walker (R) said, "If you need an ID to buy cold medicine, it's reasonable to require it to vote."[156] He signed the bill into law on May 25, 2011.[157] While Republicans have pushed for similar bills in the past, some Democrats criticized the timing, calling it a deliberate act to influence the recall elections in their favor. During the recalls, however, the law was in a "soft implementation" phase, where voters were asked for photo ID, but not required to show one. Full implementation will not take place until February 2012. Due to this incremental implementation, there was concern voters would be confused, something the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board sought to prevent though an educational campaign that included billboards, radio, and television ads. The bill did not include any funding for implementation or education. Several organizations, including the League of Women Voters, also planned similar campaigns to inform the public of the changes.[158] Estimates show the cost to implement the bill could range between $5 and $7.5 million.[157]

Other changes brought on by the voter ID bill included the following:

  • In order to vote, citizens are required to live in the state for 28 days prior to an election, increased from 10 days.
  • For the recall elections on July 12, in-state residents who move to a new house or apartment after June 14 had to vote in their old district.
  • Neighbors could no longer vouch for one another and parents can no longer vouch for voting-age children who live in their house.
  • The period for absentee ballot voting was shortened from three weeks to two.
  • Cutoff date for accepting absentee ballots was changed from the Monday before an election to Friday before the election.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin planned to have volunteers serving as poll watchers during the recalls to ensure the new law worked correctly. Executive director Andrea Kaminski said, "We’ll also be looking for any signs of voters who are disenfranchised whose votes might not count because of it."[159]

Free IDs

The DMV began offering free IDs to many voters on July 1. A new form for those getting or renewing an ID now includes a box asking if they will be 18 by the next election, are an American citizen and need a free ID card to vote. If that criteria is met, along with proof of name, birth date and address, the ID is provided free of charge.[160] Officials are projecting the free IDs will result in a loss of $1.9 million to the state transportation fund.[161]

New law in practice

The first time the new law was put into practice was during the July 12 Democratic primaries. Although the law was in the "soft implementation" phase, clerks in Fox Valley said they did not have any major problems. Outagamie County Clerk Lori O'Bright said, "Things ran very smoothly. This election, things went very well."[162]

GAB spokesman Reid Magney said there were a few issues at the polls due to the law, but that most were misunderstandings.

Additional reading

National impact

What makes the recalls so historic is not just the attention in Wisconsin, but also the nationwide chain reaction. The recalls have served as a lighting rod for progressive coalition building across the country. Other states -- such as Michigan and Maine -- pursued recall in some manner. Meanwhile, the "Paul Ryan budget" also drew national attention to Wisconsin.

Michigan

Governor of Michigan Rick Snyder won a resounding election in 2010 by 14%. His subsequent steps to repair the beleaguered state's economy were both decisive and divisive. Only months into his term, a formal recall effort was circulating petitions. Michigan's governor may not be recalled for 180 days after taking office; recall signatures, however, may be gathered as soon as 90 days after the inauguration, provided they are not officially submitted until the 180th day or later. In this case, the earliest date for any signatures to be submitted was July 1, 2011.

Working under umbrella group FireRickSnyder.org, petitioners began collecting signatures on May 21, 2011.[163] The law allows them a 90 day window to circulate petitions, meaning they had until August 20, 2011 to amass the minimum of 806,522 valid signatures, a number equal to 25% of the ballots cast for the governor in the most recent election. Anticipating that one in five signatures would be discarded, the group sought 1.1 million signatures. Organizers worked to meet that number earlier – by August 5, 2011 – the deadline to place a ballot initiative on the November 8, 2011 ballot.[164]

The same group also targeted five lower ranked state officials – Republicans all. Senators John Moolenaar, Howard Walker, and Tom Casperson, respectively of the 36th, 37th, and 38th districts are facing recall efforts. Also in the crosshairs are Representatives James Bolger of the 63rd District and Joel Johnson of the 97th. Rep. Bolger is also the current Speaker of the Michigan House.

Maine

Maine does not currently have citizen recall for state officials. Undaunted, organizers began working to create that process and then apply it to freshman Republican Governor Paul LePage. The ire at LePage crystallized when he ordered the removal and storage of an overtly political piece of taxpayer-funded artwork hanging in the state's Department of Labor. The governor held that a conference room meant for mediating disputes between employees and managers ought not be decorated with a mural whose political message is unmistakeable. His opponents, though, took it a the opening volley of a partisan war on blue collar voters and used the anger to focus recall efforts.[165]

Cynthia Dill, a Portland Democrat who sat in the House at the time and has since been elevated to the Senate in a special election, began both a legislative and a petition process to bring recall to Maine. Her site, run jointly with MoveOn.org, at SignOn.org, said Maine needed recall and began collecting the 20,000 signatures. By June 8, 2011, the page boasted 18,940 names. That petition is carrying Mainers' hopes for recall as the bill, HP1006, was indefinitely postponed and then placed in the legislative files on April 14, 2011 – a polite way of declaring it dead. The Senate never took action, though Dill's new office may herald a renewed effort.[166]

National focus and support

The Wisconsin recalls have received focus, as well as support, from organizations and events around the country.

  • Wisconsin recalls were a major focus at the sixth annual Netroots Nation meeting, a Progressive conference, held June 16-19 in Minneapolis.[167] The first day included a panel titled, "The Wisconsin 14, the Recall and the Impact of National Organizing in Wisconsin," which included speakers from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, and MoveOn.[168] Freshman Wisconsin state Sen. Chris Larson was slated to be on the panel but canceled in order to stay in Madison and vote on the state budget.[169] Later in the day the impact of bloggers was the focus of a panel called, "Bloggers Unite! How the Netroots Rallied in Wisconsin."[170]
  • At RightOnline, a Conservative conference that was also held in Minneapolis on June 17-18, Wisconsin was also a central focus. Americans for Prosperity, who funded the conference, sponsored the "Wisconsin Freedom Phonebanks," which AFP-Wisconsin state director Matt Seaholm said was "set up for citizen identification, asking people where they stand on the issues -- just kind of identifying people to see what they think of the recalls going on, but also the governor's plan on collective bargaining."[171] He estimated 150 Wisconsin activists attended the conference.
  • In Seattle, a concert was held on June 18 in support of the recall efforts against Republicans. All proceeds went to the Wisconsin Recall Task Force to be used for the July and August elections. Performer and organizer Gary Kanter said, "The people of Wisconsin need to know that their friends and neighbors throughout our nation have their backs and that their fight is our fight as well." Along with the musical acts, Washington state Senator Maralyn Chase (D) and state Representative Luis Moscoso (D) also spoke at the event.[172]
  • EMILY’s List, a national organization which lists its mission as "electing pro-choice Democratic women to office,"[173] announced on June 14 that it would donate funds to 5 Democratic candidates in the recalls. The organization set up a website for the campaign, which included profiles on the candidates - Jessica King, Shelly Moore, Nancy Nusbaum, Sandy Pasch, and Jennifer Shilling. While not disclosing how much they planned to spend, a press release from the group states they would "operate entirely as an independent expenditure organization,"[174] a move which exempted them from the legal limits that campaigns and political parties must adhere to.[175]
  • Democracy for America, a group founded by Howard Dean, promised at the Netroots conference to spend $1.5 million on the recalls, stating that the group had already spent $200,000 to support the 14 Democratic state senators while they were in Illinois.[176] The organization also bussed activists from the convention to Wisconsin in order to knock on doors for the Democratic candidates in the recalls.[171]
  • A fundraiser benefiting the recall efforts against Republicans was held on July 7 in Washington D.C. Individual tickets started at $250, while it will cost patrons $2,500, sponsors $5,000, and hosts $10,000, with all of the money going to the America Vote Action Fund. The event was headlined by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and featured Democratic Wisconsin Representatives Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Tammy Baldwin.[177]
In reaction, Stephan Thompson, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, stated, “Wisconsin Democrats just aren’t finding the support they need at home, so in an act of desperation they’ve turned to Nancy Pelosi’s influence among D.C.’s liberal lobbying crowd to save the day. If we needed another sign of how out of touch Wisconsin Democrats truly are, this is it.”[178]
  • The American Federation for Children, a national organization promoting school choice, became involved in the recalls in mid-July with an ad in support of Alberta Darling and a call for donations in order to "counter the resources of anti-reform special interest groups."[179]

Background

Targeted Democratic senators

Eight Democratic state senators were eligible for recall in the first part of 2011 because they were elected to the terms they were currently serving in November 2008 and therefore, the year in office that must elapse before they can be subjected to a recall election had elapsed. Four additional Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Senate were sworn-in on January 3, 2011. They were therefore not subject to a recall petition prior to January 3, 2012.

All eight Democratic state senators who were eligible for a recall in 2011 have had recall petitions taken out against them.

On April 21, recall supporters filed signatures with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board with the objective of qualifying special recall elections targeting Democratic state senators Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch.[180],[181]

Recall organizations

Targeted Republican senators

Eight Republican state senators were eligible for recall in the first part of 2011 because they were elected to the terms they were serving in November 2008 and therefore, the year in office that must elapse before they can be subjected to a recall election had elapsed. The nine additional Republican members of the Wisconsin State Senate were sworn-in on January 3, 2011. They were therefore not subject to a recall petition prior to January 3, 2012.

Recall petitions against all eight Republicans who can be recalled were taken out on March 2, 2011.

22,561 signatures to require a recall election for Dan Kapanke were submitted to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board on April 1, 2011.[182],[183] The signatures submitted to recall Kapanke were the first set of signatures submitted in the overall recall battle.

About 22,500 signatures to recall Randy Hopper were filed on April 7, 2011. This set of signatures was the second set of signatures filed in the sixteen different state senate recalls.[184]

Signatures to recall Sheila Harsdorf were filed on April 21, and signatures to recall Alberta Darling were filed on April 21.[185]

Recall process

See also: Laws governing recall in Wisconsin
  • In order to force a recall election, signatures must be collected on recall petitions. The number of signatures that must be collected is 25% of the number of votes cast for the office of Governor of Wisconsin in the most recent gubernatorial election in the district where the recall is sought
  • Recall signatures are to be submitted to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which must check the signatures to ensure that enough of them are valid to meet the minimum threshold for a recall election.
  • Once the Government Accountability Board says that sufficient signatures have been submitted, the recall election must be conducted six weeks later.
  • The name of the targeted incumbent automatically appears on the ballot for the special recall election, unless the incumbent specifically declines to have his or her name on the ballot.
  • Candidates who wish to run for the seat that will become vacant if the recall succeeds can collect signatures to have their name appear on the special recall election ballot. As a result, the seat can be made vacant (if voters approve the recall), and re-filled, on the same day and in the same election.
  • However, if more than one person from a political party files to run in the special recall election, the recall election date becomes a de facto primary, and the final election must be held 4 weeks later.

Compared to other states

In the 18 states that allow state legislative recall, the shortest time granted to recall organizers to collect the required number of signatures is 60 days. Only three states allow just 60 days, and Wisconsin is one of them. (The other two that allow just 60 days are Colorado and Idaho.) Seven states allow 90 days and the remaining 8 states allow more than 90 days.

In the 18 states with state legislative recall, 15 states base the number of signatures required to force a recall election as a percentage of the number of votes cast in the most recent election for the office held by the incumbent whose recall is sought. Wisconsin is just one of 3 states (the other two being Michigan and Oregon) where the number of signatures is a percentage of the number of votes cast for the office of governor in the legislative district where the incumbent is targeted.

7 of the 18 states that allow state legislative recall require that specific types of wrongdoing or lack of fitness for serving in office be the case before a recall can go forward; Wisconsin is not one of those states.

Possible changes

Republican leaders said on June 20 that they were considering legislation for the fall that would make it more difficult to recall state officials. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said the recalls were slowing down the legislative process and that he believes some Democrats would support changing the laws governing recall.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca disagreed, stating, "I think it's extremely unlikely that they would get support (from Democrats). I don't think they are going to get any traction on this. From a political standpoint, it looks like politicians trying to avoid accountability."[186]

In order to change the laws, legislation would have to be passed during two legislative sessions and then approved by voters in a statewide referendum.

State legislative recalls

See also: State legislative recalls

The right of voters to recall state legislators was first adopted in 1908 in Michigan and Oregon. Sixteen additional states subsequently granted the right of state legislative recall so that now, altogether, state legislators can be recalled in 18 states.

The first state legislative recall in the United States was in 1913 in California, when Marshall Black was recalled after being convicted of embezzlement.

Altogether, between 1913-2010, there have been 20 state legislative recall elections. In spite of the fact that state legislative recall is available in 18 states, all of the 20 state legislative elections that have occurred have occurred in just five states: California, Idaho, Michigan, Oregon and Wisconsin.

  • 13 of the recall elections were directed at state senators. 8 of the 13 were recalled.
  • 7 of the recall elections were directed at state representatives. 5 of the 7 were recalled.

Of the 20 state legislative recall elections prior to 2011, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled.

Ineligible for recall in 2011

Senators

17 of Wisconsin's 33 incumbent state senators won election or re-election on November 2, 2010; a recall campaign could not be waged against them for at least a year following. They were:

  1. Chris Larson
  2. Dale Schultz
  3. Frank Lasee
  4. Jon Erpenbach
  5. Joseph Leibham
  6. Kathleen Vinehout
  7. Leah Vukmir
  8. Michael Ellis
  9. Neal Kedzie
  10. Pam Galloway
  11. Rich Zipperer
  12. Robert Jauch
  13. Scott Fitzgerald
  14. Terry Moulton
  15. Tim Carpenter
  16. Tim Cullen
  17. Van Wanggaard

Scott Walker

Republican Gov. Scott Walker was also elected on November 2, 2010 and is ineligible for recall until 2012. Democrats at their annual state convention on June 3-4 indicated that they intended to launch a recall effort against Walker.[187] It was reported on June 15 that People First Superior set up a phone bank to rally support for the possible recall and that they will continue to hold phone banks weekly.[188]

The "Chequamegon Bay Committee to Recall Walker" was formed in June 2011. The Political Action Committee will hold fundraisers and assist "local citizens obtain their Wisconsin state ID's so they are able to vote," according to an email sent by the committee treasurer, Darlene Neff.[189] A total of 540,208 valid signatures will be needed to trigger a recall election of Walker.

Following an appearance in Washington, D.C. in June, Walker said most voters in his state are not interested in the recalls and "are ready to move on." He went on to say, “And I don’t just mean one party or another. I think just in general. The average citizen in Wisconsin I talk to, it’s like they’ve had it … They want us to be talking about jobs. They want us to be focused on that … And so having another political campaign -- it’s going to happen, it’s not like they can avoid it. But it’s not something they’re particularly interested in.”[190]

See also

External links

Websites targeting Democrats

Websites targeting Republicans

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